A Kane County judge Wednesday knocked a year off the prison sentence of Alia Bernard, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to aggravated DUI in a 2009 crash that killed two motorcyclists and injured a dozen more.
Associate Judge Allen Anderson said that he shouldn't have considered the severity of the consequences while applying mitigating factors to her sentence, because that severity already was covered by the law. He had originally sentenced her to 7 years in prison. She could have received probation, or 6 to 28 years.
Bernard, 28, of Aurora, pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs. Marijuana was found in her system after the May 2009 crash on Route 47 south of Elburn.
In May 2010, Bernard was charged with felony reckless homicide in the deaths of Wade and Denise Thomas of St. Charles, who were part of a group headed to Wisconsin when Bernard rear ended another car near Sugar Grove and caused a chain reaction, according to court records.
Jerry Bozonelos, a motorcyclist from Aurora who also was injured in the crash, attended Wednesday's hearing, as did more than a dozen other motorcycle enthusiasts. Bozonelos, who now uses a specialized wheelchair, said afterward he has lost count of the surgeries he has had since the crash. He estimated his surgical bills alone at in excess of $3 million. He estimates he has spent a total of one month at home since the crash; the rest of the time has been in hospitals or rehabilitation nursing homes.
"I didn't think it was right," he said of the reduction in sentence. "This is my life from now on," whereas in three years (with time off for good behavior), Bernard can go back to her normal life, he said.
"That's why I keep showing up for the trials," Bozonelos said.